Teen 'happy' for chance at this summer school Queenstown girl wins scholarship for Japan

June 20, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

While most of her friends are working or relaxing at the beach this summer, 17-year-old Christina Rhynalds will be sitting in a classroom -- in Japan.

The Severn School junior is to leave tomorrow for Yokohama, where she will spend six weeks as a student at a Japanese high school and learn about the Japanese way of life.

"I'm really happy I get to go," Rhynalds said. "It'll be interesting."

Rhynalds is the recipient of a Japan-U.S. Senate scholarship awarded by the Youth For Understanding International Exchange.

The scholarship program, which is in its 14th year, gives 50 American high school juniors -- one from each state -- the chance to experience life in Japan.

Rhynalds applied for the scholarship last fall after she saw an application on her Spanish teacher's desk.

"I was very interested in going," the Queenstown teen-ager said. "It seemed like a great opportunity not to go as a tourist, because when you're a tourist, you don't meet people. You see buildings, and I want to meet people."

Rhynalds, who has a 3.7 grade point average and a Scholastic Assessment Test score of 1480, had to write six short essays and be recommended by a teacher.

Ingrid Rapatz, a spokeswoman for the program, said the scholarship committee selects students based on 10 characteristics, including communication, flexibility and adaptability.

"When we look at the essay questions, we try to pull out these factors," Rapatz said. "She satisfied these factors to a high degree."

Since April, when she was notified of her success, Rhynalds has been preparing for her trip. She has been reading textbooks from her Chinese and Japanese history class last year and learning to speak some Japanese.

"It's a lot harder than Spanish," she said.

Rhynalds also has been sending letters by fax to Yayai Maeda, a 16-year-old Japanese girl with whose family Rhynalds will stay.

Maeda's letters have eased Rhynalds' mind.

"For a while, I was worried that I was going to live with a family, and no one speaks English," she said. "But [Maeda] speaks really good English."

Rhynalds said she would like to see a Japanese garden and a tea ceremony during her visit. But more importantly, she wants to share her American experiences with her Japanese counterparts.

"In America, the emphasis is on individualism," she said. "In Japan, it's more of a group effort. I want to see that."

Her father, Timothy Rhynalds, acknowledged that he and his wife, Vickie, had mixed feelings about her spending most of her summer vacation in Japan.

"We're apprehensive, like any parents would be," said the 43-year-old pilot for USAir.

"But Christina expressed an interest in international studies, and the chance for her to go and study in Japan is an excellent way to get started."

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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